Cool under heat.
BE THEY PROFOUND OR PROFANE, the words in Marco Pierre White's influential 1990 autobiography White Heat put food on the map for a generation of chefs, including a 21-year-old young man grinding away in the kitchens of Vancouver.
Hungry for a European apprenticeship, David Hawksworth composed several "Dear Chef" letters in which he stated his arrival date in London (the following week) and the phone number of his temporary headquarters (a hostel). One of those letters was addressed to Marco Pierre White.
"Marco rang up the hostel on a Monday and said, 'you can start on Wednesday,'" Hawksworth recounts. Knives in tow, he arrived at Canteen in Chelsea Harbor at 7:00 am and finished at 12:30 am every day for the next year. It was grisly working under the terrifically talented, notorious bad boy. Yet Hawksworth says, "Marco showed us what was possible if you put your mind to it."
"In Europe it's super intense. It's every man for himself. You really have to make an effort and get along with everyone or else you're done in a day. Back then we did 180-200 for lunch and dinner. In Vancouver, years earlier, it was like Club Med."
White assumed he'd excel at fish station because of his port city roots, but Hawksworth was unschooled in rouget, turbot and other Atlantic schools. "It was a steep learning curve," he says. "They threw me in the deep end of the pool and I barely sunk!"
Next stop: Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxford where he ascended from commis to sous chef, followed by his first head chef slot at Blanc's newer space, Le Petit Blanc Brasserie.
In 1996 the phone rang. "I hear you're unhappy," said the familiar voice on the other end of the phone. Deja vu. Marco Pierre White offered Hawksworth a head chef vacancy at L'Escargot in Soho. Flash forward four brutal years later. He welcomed a change working for someone he calls, "Straightforward, who doesn't play games, and isn't pompous. Phil Howard of The Square is a nice, normal guy who is down to earth and cuts out all the bullshit."
Turning 30 was a turning point. He had met his future wife, Annabel, but still worked seven days a week. "'I couldn't do it any more,'" Hawksworth said. "People go to London for just a couple years. I was therefor 10."
Vancouver Harbor, ringed by shiny high-rises that surge from sea to sky and palatial saw-toothed Coast Mountains beckoned. Not to mention, the best salmon and Dungeness crab in the world. At the epoch 2000 millennium, Hawksworth reunited with his hometown. For the next eight years he'd be found on Granville Street, elevating the food at West.
"I wanted to drive my own bus. I had a vision of how things should be done." In what Hawksworth calls "weird timing" he met the new owners of the 1927 downtown Vancouver landmark, Hotel Georgia. Their big plans to revamp the timeless treasure included a first rate restaurant. "If I were able to open there I'd have a fairly good chance of survival. Downtown stays pretty busy."
Toronto-based designer Alessandro Munge brought his international elan to the project. Although he and Hawksworth had not met before, Munge suggested they hit the streets of New York and scrutinize the food, service, and decor at as many restaurants as possible. "We visited eleven restaurants, including Craft and Nobu, in one night," Hawksworth says. Meanwhile, five weeks away from the opening, bookings at Hawksworth were to the hilt.
With a glimmering chandelier affixed, opalescent tabletops polished, and his name etched in letter case on the windowpane, Hawksworth the restaurant exuded a grandness beyond what Hawksworth the man envisioned.
Now that Hawksworth controls his universe of white light and white heat, anticipate more great things to come from him, including a second, humbler opus. As he says, "There's room for more great food in Vancouver."
ROASTED SQUAB, CELERY-PINE MUSHROOM PUREE, PINE MUSHROOM EMULSION Serves 4 David Hawksworth, Hawksworth For the stock: 2 pounds game bones 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped 3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped 15 button mushrooms 1 bay leaf 4 thyme sprigs Water to cover For the squab: Reduced stock, from above 2 cups sherry vinegar 2 cups maple syrup 4 whole squab, legs and clavicle bones removed Salt and pepper, as needed For the pine mushroom emulsion: 2 tablespoons butter 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped 2 cups pine mushrooms, sliced 2 cups milk 1 ounce fresh thyme leaves 1 tablespoon salt For the pine mushroom puree: 1 1/2 tablespoons butter 1 small white onion, peeled and chopped 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped 22 ounces pine mushrooms 1 cup milk 1 cup heavy cream 1 1/2 ounces butter Salt to taste For the celery: 4 celery ribs, ends trimmed, and peeled with a vegetable peeler 1/4 cup apple juice 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt For the celeriac: 18 ounces celeriac, peeled, trimmed, and sliced on a vegetable sheeter 2 cups canola oil for frying For the dish: Roasted cipollini onions Chive blossoms Chervil pluches FOR THE STOCK: Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread out all bones and vegetables on a large baking sheet. Roast in the oven until golden brown. Remove and transfer to a large stock pot. Cover with water and simmer for 6 hours. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. FOR THE SQUAB: In a saucepan, bring stock, syrup, and sherry vinegar to a simmer. Using a slotted spoon, dip each squab in liquid for 15 seconds, coating the squab completely. Remove immediately and transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes. Repeat this process 6 times until a lacquer develops. After the final dip, refrigerate the squab overnight. FOR THE PINE MUSHROOM EMULSION: In a pot, add butter and shallots and saute on medium heat until translucent. Add mushrooms and saute 20 minutes on medium heat. Add milk and bring to simmer. Remove from heat and add thyme and salt. Steep in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding solids. FOR THE PINE MUSHROOM PUREE: In a pot over medium heat, add butter and saute onion and garlic until translucent. Increase heat to medium-high, add sliced pine mushrooms, and saute for another 20 minutes until very fragrant. Add milk and cream and reduce by an ounce. Place in a Thermomix blender. Heat to 176 degrees and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh sieve. Season with salt to taste. Scoop in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, and reserve. FOR THE CELERY: Lay celery strips flat in a vacuum sealing bag. Add apple juice, vinegar, and salt. Compress on high, sealing until ribbons are transparent and absorb some of the liquid. Reserve in the refrigerator. FOR THE CELERIAC: Wrap celeriac slices around 1-inch wooden dowels overlapping by about 1/4-inch. Place celeriac in dehydrator at 284 degrees for 6 hours. When completely dry, heat canola oil to 375 degrees. Remove celeriac from dowel. Fry celeriac until golden brown. Cool, and reserve in an airtight container. FOR THE DISH: Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Season squab with salt and pepper. Roast squab for 10-12 minutes, or until tender and the skin is crispy. Heat puree and emulsion and keep warm. Strain celery ribbons from liquid and temper. Remove squab from the oven and rest on a cutting board for 8 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut breasts from the squab. TO SERVE: On a plate, place squab breasts. Garnish with celery ribbons, crispy celeriac, and cipollini onions. Pipe circles of pine mushroom puree. Using a frother, foam emulsion and spoon onto vegetables. Garnish with chive blossoms and chervil. GRILLED PINE MUSHROOMS, YUZU BROWN BUTTER, FINGER CHILI, CRISPY GARLIC Serves 4 David Hawksworth, Hawksworth For the pine mushrooms: 12 ounces pine mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 3A-inch thick 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon lemon juice For the yuzu brown butter: 7 ounces brown butter 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon yuzu juice 1 tablespoon salt For the finger chili *: 1 ounce finger chili, thinly sliced, held in ice water For the crispy garlic: 2 cups milk, divided into three equal portions 7 ounces garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly on mandoline Grape seed oil, for frying For the milk solids: 3 ounces milk solids 7 ounces butter For the garnish: Micro cilantro Maldon sea salt FOR THE PINE MUSHROOMS: Preheat a grill. Dress mushrooms with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill mushrooms for approximately 2 minutes on both sides until mushrooms have char marks and are completely cooked through. Remove from grill and drizzle with lemon juice. FOR THE YUZU BROWN BUTTER: In a pot over medium heat, heat brown butter until fragrant, and light brown in color. Add yuzu juice, season with salt, and reserve at room temperature. FOR THE CRISPY GARLIC: Heat oil to 300 degrees. In a pot, add 1/3 of milk and the sliced garlic. Bring to boil. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, and poach garlic 2 more times in remaining milk. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and dry in single layer on paper towels. When dry, fry in oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and cool. Reserve garlic in an airtight container. FOR THE MILK SOLIDS: In a pot over low heat, add milk solids and melted butter. Stir frequently to prevent milk solids from sticking. Once solids have turned a dark golden brown, strain through a fine mesh sieve and transfer to paper towels. TO SERVE: On a plate, scatter mushrooms and drizzle with yuzu brown butter. Top with sliced chili. Scatter with crispy garlic and milk solids. Garnish with micro cilantro and season with Maldon sea salt.
* The finger chili is more commonly known as cayenne. The Scoville heat units measure 30,000 to 50,000.
SOFT POACHED HEN EGG, PINE MUSHROOM TALLEGIO FONDUE, CRISPY POTATO, LEEK ASH Serves 4 David Hawksworth Hawksworth For the leek ash: 1 small bunch leeks, trimmed, green parts only For the potato tuilles: 2 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced Salt, as needed 3 egg whites For the pine mushroom fondue: 2 tablespoons butter 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 10 ounces pine mushrooms, finely chopped 2 teaspoons salt 1 cup heavy cream 3 1/2 ounces Taleggio cheese, rind removed 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated Salt to taste For the soft poached hen egg: 4 large free-range eggs Maldon sea salt to taste FOR THE LEEK ASH: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place cleaned leek tops on baking tray and roast until black and charred. Cool, transfer to a grinder, and grind into a powder. Store in an airtight container. FOR THE POTATO TUILLES: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium size pot, add potatoes and cover in water. Add salt and boil until just tender. Remove from heat and drain in a colander. Using a food mill, puree potatoes and push through a tamis. Incorporate egg whites and pass through a tamis a second time. In a thin, even layer, spread onto a lightly sprayed Silpat. Bake for 5-6 minutes. Heat a deep fryer to 300 degrees. Fry potato until golden and translucent. Drain on paper towels. When cool, break into pieces and store in an airtight container. FOR THE PINE MUSHROOM FONDUE: In a small saute pan over medium heat, heat butter. Add shallots and garlic and saute until just translucent, approximately 15-20 minutes. In a larger-sized pan over high heat, add oil, and roast the pine mushrooms. Season with salt. In a bowl, combine the garlic and shallots with mushrooms and reserve off the heat. Add cream to the pan and reduce by 1/3. Add Taleggio and Parmesan cheeses and cook, stirring, until smooth. Add pine mushroom mixture, adjust seasonings, and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes to infuse flavors. Set aside. FOR THE SOFT POACHED HEN EGG: Set immersion circulator to 148 degrees. Using a spoon, carefully drop eggs into the water. Cook for 45 minutes. TO SERVE: Spoon some of the pine mushroom fondue onto a plate. Carefully remove the egg from the water, and crack open on top. Add Maldon sea salt to taste. Scatter with potato tuilles. Sprinkle with the leek ash. Serve immediately. FOIE GRAS AND PINE MUSHROOM TERRINE WITH PINENUT CLUSTERS Serves 8 For the cure: 2 1/2 cups salt 1 cup castor sugar 4 ounces Insta Cure #1 For the mushrooms: 3 ounces grape seed oil 1 pound pine mushroom, brushed clean, sliced 1/4-inch thick 1 teaspoon salt For the terrine: 2 pound lobe foie gras, deveined 1/4 cup cure, from above 2 ounces Armagnac 4 ounces Madeira 1 teaspoon ground white pepper For the pine nut clusters: 17 ounces pine nuts 1 cup isomalt 1/4 cup sugar For the garnish: Concord grapes Thinly sliced pine mushrooms Nasturtium leaves Maldon sea salt David Hawksworth, Hawksworth FOR THE CURE: In a bowl, combine all ingredients and set aside. FOR THE MUSHROOMS: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a saute pan over high heat, heat the oil. Add mushrooms, season with salt, and quickly sear. Transfer to the oven, roasting until caramelized on one side, about 45 seconds. Turn mushrooms and cook for another 20 seconds, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and drain on paper towels. Set aside. FOR THE TERRINE: Place foie gras in a hotel pan and add remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for 4 hours. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 16" x 2" x 1 1/2 terrine mold with plastic wrap and set aside. Transfer foie gras to a baking pan, and place in the oven, stirring every 2 minutes for a total of 8 minutes. Be careful not to let foie split or the internal temperature reach over 100 degrees. Remove from oven, strain through a fine mesh sieve and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Add 1/3 of the foie mixture to the mold and place in refrigerator. Keep other 2/3 of foie mixture in a warm spot. When the first layer of foie sets, arrange half of the sliced pine mushrooms down the length of the terrine. Add another 1/3 of the foie mixture on top of the mushrooms, gently tapping down any air bubbles, and return to the refrigerator to set. Repeat, using the rest of the mushrooms followed by the final 1/3 of the foie gras. Cover with plastic film, and place in the refrigerator to set overnight. FOR THE PINE nut CLUSTERS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly toast pine nuts until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Place isomalt and sugar in a pot and bring to 284 degrees, or a light amber color. Add warm pine nuts, stir to combine, and pour onto a sheet pan lined with parchment. Cool and break into clusters. Reserve in an airtight container. TO SERVE: Carefully remove the terrine from the mold. Using a warm knife, slice into 3/4-inch slices and arrange on a plate. Garnish with concord grapes, sliced pine mushrooms, pine nut clusters and nasturtium leaves. Season with Maldon sea salt. SLOW-COOKED ATLANTIC LOBSTER IN PINE MUSHROOM DASHI Serves 4 David Hawksworth, Hawksworth For the lobsters: 9 ounces salt 2 gallons water 4 1-pound lobsters 3 ounces butter Zest of 1 lemon For the grains: 1/2 cup pearl barley 1 1/2 cups chicken stock 1 tablespoon black peppercorns 1 tablespoon fennel seeds 4 whole bay leaves 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves 4 tablespoons wild rice Canola oil for frying For the pine mushroom dashi: 4 cups water 7 ounces dried kombu 1 1/2 ounces bonito flakes 8 ounces pine mushrooms, chopped 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons white soy 1/8 cup shiro dashi 1 1-inch piece peeled ginger root, sliced 1 clove garlic, peeled, and sliced For the dish: 6 ounces fresh English peas, blanched and shucked Mache Mustard flowers FOR THE LOBSTERS: In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add lobsters and steep for 3 minutes. Cool in an Ice water bath. Remove meat from shells, keeping tails whole and saving claws for another use. Place tails, butter, and lemon in a commercial vacuum sealing bag. Seal and reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use. FOR THE GRAINS: Rinse barley under cold running water for 30 minutes. In a pot, add chicken stock. Make a sachet with black peppercorns, fennel seeds, bay leaves, and thyme, and add to the stock, bringing to a simmer. Add barley and stir frequently, cooking on medium-high heat until tender. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and set barley aside. Cool stock and set aside. In a medium size pot, heat oil to 400 degrees or until smoking. Add the wild rice, and cook until it puffs, approximately 15 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Cool at room temperature. Store in an airtight container. FOR THE PINE MUSHROOM DASHI: In a pot, add water with kombu and bring to a low simmer. Remove from the heat, add the bonito, and return to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the pine mushrooms. Bring to a simmer before removing from heat a third time. Add all other ingredients and steep for 2 hours. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. FOR THE DISH: Place the lobster in an immersion circulator at 148 degrees and cook for 7 minutes. Gently heat the barley and peas in a little of the reserved stock and add a pinch of salt. Warm dashi to a simmer. Place the grains and peas in the bottom of a bowl. Remove lobster tails from the bags and place in the center of the bowl. Add crispy wild rice, mache, and mustard flowers. Finish with a splash of pine mushroom dashi.
Hawksworth has the greatest concentration of sommeliers in Vancouver, with a professional always at the ready. It's a level of service the city has never seen before. Bryant Mao, Hawksworth Wine Director says, "Our wine list is very much inspired and guided by the contemporary Canadian cuisine of Chef David Hawksworth and his culinary team. Wine plays an important role in our guests' dining experience and our wine list is designed to be as compelling, diverse and approachable as the food menus." Quality combined with value is an essential part of Hawksworth's philosophy, with 745 wines on its list, and 268 under the $100 mark. The premium end of the list encompasses a select cross-section from the world's most prestigious vineyards, including museum stock and rare vintages.